Cars That Will Crack You Up
It's not how they are built that makes them dangerous, but how they are driven. Here are the 10 most accident-prone vehicles on the road today.
Here's some highway safety advice from the insurance industry: Steer clear of anyone driving a Scion tC. This sporty, 161-horsepower coupe from the Toyota-owned youth brand tops a list of vehicles with the highest frequency of collision claims — that is, it's the car on the road today most likely to be involved in a crash.
The list is based on data compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI), a non-profit organization supported by the insurance industry and located in Arlington, Va. It includes cars and light trucks that are one to three years old, and rates each model based on the number of examples of that model that are on the road. The HLDI says it receives a monthly flow of claims data from 30 insurance companies that represent about 80 percent of privately owned and insured vehicles. Each model is assigned a ranking that is relative to the average for all vehicles. With a ranking of 165, the 2005-2007 Scion tC has 65 percent more insurance claims than the average.
Performance and Youth Don't Mix
The six vehicles leading the list are all compact, sporty cars favored by "The Fast and the Furious" generation of young enthusiast drivers, and include the Scion tC (165 ranking), the Chevrolet Cobalt SS (161), Honda Civic Si (159), Subaru Impreza WRX (154), Hyundai Tiburon (154) and Mitsubishi Galant (152).
"What we are seeing is a toxic combination of affordable, high-performance vehicles in the hands of drivers lacking maturity and good judgment," said HLDI Senior Vice President Kim Hazelbaker. "The cars at the top of the list are the highest-performance versions of each model, which in particular have a high loss rate."
This may all sound like déjà vu to the previous generation of enthusiast drivers, who spent their youth hot-rodding and cruising the boulevards in jacked-up, high-performance versions of cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger. Escalating insurance rates eventually made the muscle and pony cars of the '60s and '70s too expensive for most young drivers to own, "and that may happen again," says Hazelbaker, as insurance companies adjust rates to reflect the data compiled by the HLDI.
Age and Performance Are a Good Combo
Dad bought his Cherry Bomb glass-pack mufflers through mail-order giant J.C. Whitney. But today, the car manufacturers are catering directly to the young enthusiast audience by offering high-performance parts through their dealer networks. The parts counter at a Scion dealer, for example, is hot-rodder heaven. Scion offers a host of Toyota Racing Development components for the tC model, including a high-performance air filter, sport muffler kit, a performance clutch, a spring lowering kit and a supercharger kit that boosts engine output to 200 horsepower.
While the HLDI's rankings are based solely on the rate of claims, Hazelbaker explained that several factors can put a car high on the list, including the vehicle's performance characteristics, the age and experience level of the typical driver, and where and how the vehicle is usually operated. The seventh car on the list, the now-discontinued Suzuki Forenza (with a ranking of 148) is a $14,000 economy sedan, for example, that Hazelbaker says racks up a lot of commuter miles on congested freeways.
It's interesting that the two cars at the bottom of the current HLDI claims list are the 500-horsepower, $43,000 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 (with a rank of 22) and the 505-horsepower, $75,000 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (rank of 34), each a higher- performance version of two of the most potent vehicles on the road today.